Girl Trouble by Carol Dyhouse

2nd Apr 2013

Starting with the spectre of white slavery that caused mass-media hysteria at the start of the twentieth century, through the 'revolting daughters and rebel girls' of the suffrage movement and the flappers, beat girls and dolly birds of the subsequent decades to more recent events, Girl Trouble charts the fascination and fear that has accompanied young women's progress towards equality.

But Girl Trouble never comes across as inaccessible or overly academic, and Dyhouse’s enthusiasm and extensive research are just as tangible as her expertise, making the book a vivid, engaging and insightful exploration of the cultural and historical shifts responsible for the changing places, positions and perspectives of young women and those around them in popular society.

Girl Trouble gives a balanced, compelling and comprehensive overview of girls' turbulent journey through the twentieth century.From moral panic about girls’ virginity to educational reforms giving them unprecedented access to established institutions like Cambridge and Oxford, to the impact of music, cinema, the media, and much more, Girl Trouble gives a balanced, compelling and comprehensive overview of girls’ turbulent journey through the twentieth century.

In places the pacing is inconsistent, and (as other reviews have observed) in the chapters examining more recent decades, the tone feels more ambiguous and undecided, but overall Girl Trouble is an accessible, important and rewarding read – one I’m sure I’ll be returning to for reference, and which left me with a long reading list and pages upon pages of scribbled names and notes to research further.

Released last month by radical international publishers Zed Books, Girl Trouble: Panic and Progress in the History of Young Women is available in paperback from Amazon, Foyles, or your local independent bookseller, or there’s also a Kindle edition.


  • Jess says:

    May I also recommend Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived Without Men After The First World War by Virginia Nicholson as another nice easy to read history of women’s lives in the early-mid 20thC